Friday, June 25, 2010

Rain Brings More Than 1,000 Acts of Kindness

It’s pouring and you forgot your umbrella at home. Don’t you wish someone would hand you an umbrella? Volunteers for the Pittsburg based non-profit, The Sprout Foundation, may give you just what you wish. True to its charge to use innovative grassroots tactics, the foundation is acting as a catalyst of positive change with its Here You Go project. Volunteers roam Pittsburgh on rainy days, giving out umbrellas. Their only kind request from the recipients of their gifts is to return the act of kindness and help someone else out. Each umbrella comes with a waterproof card. Recipients are encouraged to write about their experience on these cards and mail them back to Here You Go. The organization posts them here.

Besides promoting good deed and creating a chain of positive interactions, the Here You Go project shows how we can add more meaning to marketing programs and draw audiences into a cause with a simple call-to-action delivered at the right time, in a creative way. The program is memorable because it solves a consumer problem from the get-go. It delivers the product to people at the moment they need it. The experience Here You Go project creates before it asks consumers to generate new acts of kindness also taps into emotions.

The Sprout Foundation inspires and leads by example. It first demonstrates a good deed and then asks for the same in return. The message is clear and direct. Finally, the volunteers enable their audience to pass along the message with the postcards. The organization has an online platform, equipped with social media bells and whistles, which amplify participants’ voice. This web site also helps to showcase the program’s impact.

The Here You Go program serves as a model for those who are planning to give product samples, and those who wish to get community members to take civic action. Read more about this program and similar ones sprouting in Seattle, Baltimore and Sydney here.

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